February is National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month

Date: February 11th, 2015

Guest Post by Anna Burns, Outreach and Engagement Associate, School-Based Health Alliance

Every February, the school-based health care community comes together to celebrate its successes and recharge its focus on redefining health for kids and teens. This year, the School-Based Health Alliance—a national nonprofit organization that works to advance and advocate for school-based health care—is focusing on how increasing access to health care services helps students succeed in and out of the classroom.

One of the best ways to connect students to the health care services they need to thrive is a school-based health center (SBHC). First things first, let’s recap what an SBHC is. An SBHC is typically located on a K-12 school campus and is staffed by medically trained professionals. These centers offer such services as flu immunizations, chronic illness management for conditions such as asthma, primary care, behavioral health and counseling, an—in some cases—vision and dental care. The school-based health model varies by city and state, but the mission remains the same: removing barriers to health care by meeting students where they are.

In order to learn, students must be present, healthy, and engaged. While there is limited research on the effect SBHCs have on reducing absenteeism and increasing academic success, the initial results are promising. (Click here to download the School-Based Health Alliance’s Academic Success fact sheet.) We know that when students miss class, their academic performance generally suffers. Since SBHCs are located just a few steps away from where children and adolescents spend the majority of their day, students are able to miss less class time. What does this mean in real terms?  It means that a parent does not have to miss a half-day of work taking his or her child to the doctor for an asthma treatment. Those parents have more time to focus on making ends meet—and the young person has more time to focus on studying.

This February, we are celebrating the physicians, nurses, medical professionals, staff, and most importantly, the students who make the school-based health care movement such a success. We’d love for you to celebrate with us. Tweet us at @sbh4all, join our Facebook conversations at facebook.com/SchoolBasedHealthAlliance, or send us an email to tell us how you are celebrating School-Based Health Awareness Month in your community!

Now is the time to come together to improve health outcomes for our nation’s children. We hope you can join us.

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